Wednesday NCAA Basketball Picks: Pitt VS UConn, NC Tar Heels VS Clemson

Wednesday NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky took care of Florida last night, though they needed a strong final few minutes to slam the door, giving me a nice win to start the week. Lets hope that keeps going on Wednesday Night.

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Pittsburgh Panthers @ Connecticut Huskies (-6): The 15th ranked Huskies have struggled a little bit against ranked opponents, losing to Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Georgetown in the last month. But two of those games were on the road, all three losses came by 3 points or less, and one was a loss to the currently undefeated Wildcats. So listen, it’s not as bad as it seems. Plus, the Huskies are 10-0 at home this season, and have won each home contest by at least 8 points. The Huskies have covered each of their last 5 games and still the bettors are 65% in favor of Pittsburgh covering this game. Six points could make this one interesting, but I like the home team to cover here. I think UConn will be too strong for 20th ranked Pittsburgh, and the Panthers undefeated start to the Big East will come to an end.

North Carolina Tar Heels (+3) @ Clemson Tigers: What I see is a Clemson team that struggles when they lost the rebound battle and a Tar Heel team that more often than not wins the rebound battle. I’m not saying it’s all about boards, but that tells me the Tigers struggle against other bigs, and the Heels have a couple very good bigs and a handful of other guys that will give the Tigers trouble size-wise. Clemson hasn’t beaten the Tar Heels for a long time, as I know the Heels have won at least 10 in a row against the Tigers. Deon Thompson should score, but Ed Davis should have a good time eating up the glass.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs North Carolina Tar Heels: Meineke Car Care Bowl Pick

Pittsburgh Panthers vs North Carolina Tar Heels: As I said in my Just Picks Newsletter, the Tar Heels actually look like the better team to me. I know the Panthers have a pretty damn good record, and they’ve played tight against some very good teams, but I’m afraid they might have out-produced themselves this season. It’s not like the ACC has shown it’s speed, toughness, and grit against other conferences this year – but this Tar Heel team can shut down most any rushing attack, and they put a lot of pressure on opposing offenses. The Pitt Panthers have one real strength, their rushing attack, and I forsee the Tar Heels doing a very good job of slowing that portion of the Panthers’ offense down.

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69% of the public is against me in this one, and I understand why. The Panthers are 9-3 SU this season, 7-4 ATS – but they haven’t been awesome on the road, just 3-2 this season, and never really looking that good (besides @ Louisville, and lets be honest, that shouldn’t count). But Pitt has been tough, no doubt, they have yet to get beaten by more than 7 points, and lost their last two games by a total of 4 points, losing 44-45 against Cincinnati in the final game of their regular season.

But it’s that fall that has me worried. The Panthers went from a possible BCS bowl to a Meineke Car Care Bowl against an un-ranked ACC opponent – there may very well be a lull in their preparation for this game based on that alone. The Tar Heels have also played thier best football of the season in their last 5 games, beating Va Tech, Duke, Miami, and Boston College – before getting upset by a point against their in-state rival, NC State. I like them to win their 5th in 6 chances this Saturday.

Pittsburgh Panthers VS North Carolina Tar Heels (+3):

ACC vs Big 10 Challenge: Free NCAA Basketball Picks

ACC Big 10 Challenge Tuesday Night Games

So what if I have March Madness and it’s merely December 1st, I’ve been known to get a little excited ahead of schedule – but what can I say, there’s something about college basketball that makes it just a little more pure than any other big sport in America. Maybe it’s the rivalries, or the great coaches, or the intense nature and the “there’s always a chance” fashion of college hoops. Maybe it’s the fact that some of these guys will be going heads up against NBA stars next year and holding their own. Unlike some of the other major sports, many of these kids are NBA ready. It’s far from clean, don’t get me wrong, there’s recruiting violations and such, but the game is still pure, and it’s perfect as it is. The ACC-Big 10 Challenge is one of my favorite events of the pre-conference season, and this year has some more great match-ups. Here are my Tuesday Night Predictions….

Wake Forrest Demon Deacons (+11) @ Purdue Boilermakers: The 6th rated Boilermakers are very good, no doubt, they do all the little things well, have some knock down shooters from the outside, and put up a lot of points while beating some very good teams. But athletically, the Deacons can and will play with anyone. They have one of the best players in the ACC (Aminu Al-Farouq) and the kid is coming off a  4 for 18 performance in a big loss last time out. Their best guard was 5 for 15 in that loss. These guys will play better and stick with the Boilermakers.

Northwestern Wildcats (+4.5) @ N.C. State Wolf Pack: The Wildcats are better than people think, especially in the back court. NC State has struggled with guard-centric teams, and with Michael Thompson and Jeremy Nash, the Wildcats can put pressure on NC State. NC State just isn’t as efficient offensively as they need to be. I’ll take the points.

Maryland Terrapins (-4.5) @ Indiana Hoosiers: Until the Hoosiers beat somebody noteable (sorry, no offense to the schools they’ve beaten thus far) I have to go against them against guys like Greivis Vasquez. Greivis hasn’t really caught fire yet, but the season is young, and with a couple early losses, I don’t see Maryland coasting in this game.

Michigan State Spartans (+2.5) @ North Carolina Tar Heels: I hate going against my Tar Heels, but I think this Spartan team has improved from last year’s squad, and with Ty Lawson, Hansborough, and Ellington gone I don’t think the Heels are as good. Both teams have an early season loss, and both will be good all year, I just think the Spartans will be tough for the Heels to handle athletically in the back court.

Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5) @ Iowa Hawkeyes: I think the Hokies end up being too athletic for Iowa, too fast at guard and just better. I like them to win on the road.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Boston College Eagles Pick

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North Carolina Tar Heels @ Boston College Eagles (-3.5) Pick: The Eagles are an unranked favorite against the 25th ranked Tar Heels – that has been a betting point for me over the years, and I like it again this week. But this game is going to be close, let’s face it, but not close enough for me to take the Heels and that valuable extra half point. So, something has to look good to me, but what?

How about the fact that Boston College is 6-0 at home this season. Sure, they haven’t played any world-beaters at their home turf this season, but this is a good home team, a team that makes very few mistakes, a team that is 5-0 ATS at home, with wins over Central Michigan and FSU – two teams that can put up some points. Also pulling me over to the Eagles side is North Carolina’s battered offensive line. 3 offensive linemen got hurt in their last game against Miami, and if a couple of them don’t play, or aren’t 100%, the Tar Heels could struggle to run the ball and keep pressure off of T.J. Yates.

Speaking of Yates, the talented junior and Carolina QB is having a tough season at the helm. He’s thrown just as many interceptions and touchdowns (10) and has averaged just over 5.5 yards per attempt this season – that’s not a good number, in case you didn’t know.

I just think these teams are very even, and the home field is definitely a huge advantage for the Eagles. That’s enough for me.

Miami Hurricanes vs North Carolina Tar Heels Free Pick

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Miami Hurricanes @ North Carolina Tar Heels (+3) Free Pick: The Hurricanes are 7-2 on the season, 6-3 ATS, and 3-1 on the road. They are 2-2 ATS away from home. The Tar Heels are 6-3 this year, 4-4 ATS, and 4-2 at home.

The Canes really struggle against teams that can run the ball, and the Heels have been on point with their run game over the last few weeks. They’ve out-rushed their last 4 opponents, FSU, Virginia Tech, and Duke – winning 2 of their last 3 games, and setting up a good ACC match-up with the visiting Hurricanes.

The Tar Heels have won 3 of thier last 4 while the Miami has won 5 of their last 6. The Hurricanes are 3-1 on the road this season. Their two losses came against defenses that stop the run, Clemson and Virginia Tech – that match-up is good for the Heels. I think they can keep this game low scoring, giving them a nice chance to pull the upset at home.

When it comes down to it, I like Carolina’s defense to take advantage of the mistakes Miami has. The Tar Heels have one of the most underrated defenses in the land, allowing just over 15 points per game. The Heels hold a nice edge in time of possession, and I think that goes a long way this Saturday. Getting Miami thinking that they have to do more with less is a successful recipe for getting the W. These two teams are very even, getting 3 points at home is good value.

North Carolina Central Eagles vs North Carolina Tar Heels NCAAB Pick

North Carolina Central Eagles @ North Carolina Tar Heels (-45.5): The Eagles lost 3 of their last 10 games last season by 30 or more points, and not once did they play a team half as talented as the Tar Heels. Most of the “experts” I’ve looked at like the Eagles to keep this one closer than 45, and that’s understandable, but I see a bad Eagles team that lost 3 starters from last season’s squad, including two of their best players in Jamar Briscoe and Bryan Ayala.

The Tar Heels are loaded, but they are coming off a game where they didn’t really dominate as much as people expected. 46 is a hell of a lot of points for a Tar Heel team that is less explosive than last years’ squad. But against this young and unproven in-state team, I think Carolina can lay it on pretty thick.

NCC is a 4 win team from last season, and they’re down 4 contributing seniors from a year ago. North Carolina pounds the post, and that makes it tough to score 100, but they don’t have to hit the century mark to cover here. They can finish any where in teh 90s and do it, because with Carolina’s athletes and an improved defensive look, it would surprise me if the Eagles got over 40 points. They scored in the 40s seven different times last season, most of those came against decent competition.

Take the Tar Heels, they should cover despite the astronomical spread.

Week 9 NCAA Football Picks Review

7-6: Just like my NFL record this week. Hopefully next week I can rocks some high winning percentages but a couple winners on a tough weekend, can’t be too upset about that. Here’s the review for how my Week 9 College Football Picks went down.

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Texans Longhorns (-8.5) @ Oklahoma State Cowboys: (WINNER) “I like the Cowboys, like their confidence and numbers, I just don’t think it’s real. Not against good teams anyway. The Cowboys are 6-1 but they’ve had to fight a very easy schedule for wins, Baylor, Texas A&M, Rice, and Grambling don’t strike fear into my heart, and you should consider that when you’re looking at those 6 wins. 6 wins, sure, looks nice, but against who? The Cowboys’ best win? I’d say a marginal Missouri team. Texas, on the other hand, they haven’t looked like a Top team in the nation this year either, but they have won, and they’ve had to go through Oklahoma, Texas Tech,  at Missouri, and a decent Colorado team. They are the better team here, no doubt in my mind, and with Dez Bryant suspended for the season, and more importantly this game, that game breaking presence isn’t going to help bail the Cowboys out. This game could be over quick, or it could take a little while, either way there will be a time when Oklahoma State has their spirits broken, and that’s a good sign for a Texas cover.”

As it turns out, this one was over quick, so option one. The Longhorns jumped all over the Cowboys, and it seemed like OK State’s spirits were broken earlier rather than later. It wasn’t much of a contest, the 41-14 score at the end doesn’t really do it justice. Up 41-7 in the 3rd, the Longhorns didn’t bring out the billy-club in the 4th and the Cowboys finally won a quarter. A little too late, indeed. Perfect for me, and the Longhorns for that matter.

West Virginia Mountaineers (-3) @ South Florida: (LOSS) The crazy Big East, South Florida came out and fed it to the Mountaineers from the get go. After going up with a field goal late in the first quarter, the Bulls never relinquished the lead. It was very close throughout, 20-19 in the 3rd quarter, but South Florida never folded, kept coming after the Mounties rushing attack and got the home win. And they needed it bad!

South Carolina Gamecocks (+6.5) @ Tennessee Volunteers: (LOSS)  “I know that I always take the unranked favorite over the ranked dog, but this one is going to be different.” Famous last words and I don’t know why in the nuts I go against my number one rule ever. I guess I don’t believe in absolutes, but apparently it can get you in a crushing vice if you know what I mean. The Gamecocks got kicked around by the unranked home favorites. Stupid me!

Washington State Cougars @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-27.5): (LOSS) A 26-point win by the Irish? I hate Notre Dame.

UCLA Bruins (+10.5) @ Oregon State Beavers: (WINNER) “I think these two teams are awfully close talent-wise, and despite losing 4 straight games (also 0-4 ATS in those games), the Bruins aren’t out of it. They have some solid players, and defensively they should be a little bit of a challenge for Oregon State’s run-game. I know the Beavers have played well lately, even going to the wire with USC, but the Bruins have had some tough luck and I feel like that’s about to change. Football karma definitely goes around. As a 10.5 point underdog, the value is pretty good. The Bruins have played pretty solid teams in their 4 straight Pac-10 losses, and I think they’ll be ready for this game because of those. The Beavers are solid, no doubt, but UCLA is being underrated here, the value is with them.”

It was a value bet for sure. I still like Oregon State going forward, and a win here should help them keep their confidence going into next week. These two teams were very even on Saturday, and I still think they are. Both could do some more damage in the Pac-10.

Kansas Jayhawks @ Texas Tech Red Raiders (-6): (WINNER) First of all, rarely do Texas Tech Red Raider games come down to 6 points, so if you think the Raiders are going to win, a 6 point spread shouldn’t worry you at all. And it doesn’t worry me. I know Kansas had a nice run to start the season, but you saw how out-matched they were last week when Oklahoma absolutely blew them out of the water. Texas Tech isn’t Oklahoma, but they do have the offensive ability to crush the Jayhawks. What makes me like the Red Raiders even more are the words from Mike Leach’s mouth about how the Raiders are playing like piss because of their fat little girl friends. Awesome. If that doesn’t get their attention, nothing will. After beating up on Nebraska, the Red Raiders fell to Texas A&M, and they fell hard. I think Leach’s antics and just being a better football team gets them back on track this week at home, then Jayhawks just happen to be the team in the way. Texas Tech has taken each of the last 3 meetings with Kansas, and 6 out of the last 7. Last year the Red Raiders smoked the Jayhawks, 63-21. They can put up some points, and since Kansas has yet to slow down any reasonable offense whatsoever, I can’t see them doing anything to slow one of the most dynamic offenses in college football.

Missouri Tigers @ Colorado Buffaloes (+4): (LOSS) It was 33-3 at half time – needless to say I wasn’t stoked about my chances to cover. But it was 33-17 after 3 and I got a glimmer of hope. Maybe it was a glimmer of poop, though, because the Buffs played the rest of the game as if they had Buffalo droppings for a snack prior to the 4th quarter beginning. This was a swing and a miss, and as always, I apologize for that!

California Golden Bears (-6.5) @ Arizona State Sun Devils: (LOSS) Oh Cal. The Bears really haven’t looked good against anybody worthwhile. I didn’t think ASU was, but they impressed me a little bit in this one. Well I don’t know if they impressed me as much as Cal disappointed me. The Bears are in for an interesting end to the season, I can tell you that much – a few more losses will trickle down to Cali.

Georgia Bulldogs @ Florida Gators (-15): (WINNER) “The Bulldogs have played some decent football at times this year, but overall I think they’re overrated. The Gators haven’t really moved the ball well or played mistake free football over the last three weeks, their defense has been winning them football games – so yeah, needless to say, a team that talented is due for a breakout offensive performance. I know the Gators have had a lot of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and a lot of those guys are still questionable headed into Saturday’s SEC showdown with the 5-2 Bulldogs, I know that. But I also know that the back-ups on defense have been solid, that Georgia’s offense will have one hell of a hard time doing anything against the Gators back-ups, and that Tim Tebow and company shouldn’t find the same frustrations in moving the ball against that very giving Georgia defense. These teams are not equal, don’t get it twisted. Ignore the Gators recent struggles, this is a team that will turn it around soon, better to be ahead of that curve!”

I’m basically going to leave it to my crystal ball preview above. Not much I missed here. The only thing that surprised me was Georgia making it a game early in the 2nd quarter. After that it was “sonturi time”, or Tebow time in this grand country. There was no question which team as better, the Gators slapped it on thick with an interception return late.

North Carolina Tar Heels (+17) @ Virginia Tech Hokies: (WINNER) “I like the match-up problems Carolina’s stout run-defense has against a normally talented rushing game from Virginia Tech. I know UNC isn’t going to throw the ball a lot, they aren’t a passing team, but they have been known to grind out yards on the ground, and any team that can run and stop the run, is a nice value bet at +17. If you look at Virginia Tech’s losses, and games where they struggled – they got out-rushed. If the Heels can commit to stopping that Hokies run game, and put up some yardage on the ground themselves, an upset could happen. Either way, a cover seems likely.”

You bet! I hope you did anyway. The Tar Heels posed the exact problems I talked about in my preview/write up. It may have taken a last second field goal to get the win, but hey, they got 17 points in my book – this one was over early. The Heels out-rushed the Hokies, once again showing the weakness in Tech’s attack. North Carolina looked like the better team throughout. It’s always nice when they win outright!

Cincinnati Bearcats @ Syracuse Orange (-15): (LOSS) Well, it was 7-7 after the first quarter, but from then on out it just got methodically more painful to follow. After two it was 14-7. Still Covering. After three it was 21-7, still covering. But a few minutes into the 4th, the Bearcats got in the end-zone again, and it was a no-cover day for Lucky in Syracuse. The Orange had just 78 yards on 5 drives in the 2nd half – that’s not going to do it. This was very close, though, one big play gets a guy a cover. Shishkabob!

East Carolina Pirates (-4) @ Memphis Tigers Pick: (WINNER) The Panthers kicked the Tigers around to start my week off right. Those mid-week picks continue to help me out. East Carolina did what everyone expected them to do against Memphis, score early and often and generally make this game a blowout early in the 3rd quarter. Thanks for the free money Vegas!!!

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Virginia Tech Hokies Pick

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North Carolina Tar Heels (+17) @ Virginia Tech Hokies Pick: The 14th ranked Hokies come into this one looking to get back on track after taking it on the chin in a loss to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets came to play defensively, making most things tough on Tyrod Taylor and company, and a normally stout defensive front was beaten early and often by the Yellow Jackets rushing attack. It’s a short week for the Hokies, not always the easiest way to cover a 17 point spread against a tough conference opponent.

The Tar Heels come off a tough loss to Florida State last Thursday Night. They were on top for most of the game, getting up 24-6 in the 3rd quarter before FSU fought back with huge passing totals, torching a defense that played very well in the first half, and had previously been ranked #1 in the ACC. The Tar Heels would score only a field goal going forward, and the Seminoles scored a go-ahead touchdown with 6 minutes left in the 4th, it would turn out to be a game winner. A win here would certainly be sweet redemption for the Heels.

Looking at this game, I like the match-up problems Carolina’s stout run-defense has against a normally talented rushing game from the Hokies. I know UNC isn’t going to throw the ball a lot, they aren’t a passing team, but they have been known to grind out yards on the ground, and any team that can run and stop the run, is a nice value bet at +17. If you look at Virginia Tech’s losses, and game where they struggled – they got out-rushed. If the Heels can commit to stopping that Hokies run game, and put up some yardage on the ground themselves, an upset could happen. Either way, a cover seems likely.

Florida State Seminoles V North Carolina Tar Heels Pick

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Florida State Seminoles (+3) @ North Carolina Tar Heels: Give me underdog FSU on ESPN’s Thursday Night Football! The Seminoles have had a tough go of it lately. A tough loss to South Florida soured their awesome performance at BYU in the 3rd game of the season. Not only did it sour that win, but it seemed to sour the Seminoles going forward. They’ve now lost 3 straight including a touchdown loss to Boston college, and a 44-49 loss to Georgia Tech. But FSU has had two weeks to swallow their three game losing streak and look forward to an overrated North Carolina team that hasnt’ looked goo against anybody tough this season. Wins over Citidel, East Carolina, and Georgia Southern don’t excite me, and the 12-10 win over UConn was an amazing comeback where a safety with 1:32 seconds in they game gave UNC the win. But FSU is 2-4, and they’re better than that. It’s Thursday Night, and the home team often has the advantage there. But the more talented team is FSU, they’ve gone up against tougher foes, and I think they’re ready to take out the favored Tar Heels in North Carolina.

NCAA Free Picks: Week 9

Eight more picks for Week 9’s action – here they are… 

Boston College Eagles @ North Carolina Tar Heels (-3): You know my love affair with unranked favorites over ranked opponents – lets do it again this week. I know the Heels are without their starting quarterback and their stud receiver, but I like them against a weak Boston College team. 

Kentucky Wildcats (+26) @ Florida Gators: The Wildcats aren’t as good as the Gators, but just as they proved against Alabama, the nearness of ability is closer than three touchdowns. I like Kentucky at +26. I know they have a bunch of injuries, but the Gators know that too, and playing a tough opponent at home when they have a bunch of injuries doesn’t get you up for the game. 

Penn State Nittany Lions (-2) @ Ohio State Buckeyes: I know the history here. I know the Nittany Lions haven’t won at Ohio State in my lifetime (does that date me?) – but I’m not so sure that means jack right now. The Lions have really impressed me. They’ve started big and finished big, they’ve started slow and finished strong – they are just a talented and physical football team that should give Ohio State trouble. I never thought I’d see the Buckeyes as home dogs, but I’m betting against them in this big one. 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-10) @ Washington Huskies: The only thing about this game is that UW needs this win for any kind of respect for the season. And I know Ty Willingham has a lot riding on this one because he was booted early from the Irish. But I almost think Notre Dame can find a lot to play for here with the emotional belief that many people think “this is Ty’s team he recruited”. That’s a joke, but it has been said. The Huskies have won of the Top 10 worst defenses in all the land. The Irish should find lots of room in UW’s secondary. 

Oklahoma Sooners (+18.5) @ Kansas State Wildcats: I know, I know, don’t bet big road favorites in conference. I would like to abide by that rule except this exception is exceptionally exciting to me. Oh, EEEE – that’s close to the mark of the literary devil, luckily I’m just writing sports picks and I do what I want anyway. Yhatzee. 

Wyoming Cowboys @ TCU Horned Frogs (-30): Gotta take the Frogs here – they are a top 15 team in the country and only a handful are worse than the Cowboys. 41-3…

South Florida Bulls (-3) @ Louisville Cardinals: I don’t know, something about Louisville’s wins that just doesn’t get me on their side. The Bulls beat Kansas and Central Florida, and they almost took down Pitt. All 3 of those teams are better than Louisville’s 4 wins put together. I’ll take an in conference road dog again, blimey! 

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Kansas Jayhawks (-1): Maybe I’m crazy but I like the Jayhawks here because they are at home and promise a more balanced attack and defensive game plan than the Raiders. That being said, this is a TT game and anything can happen. This is my smallest play of the week, but a play nonetheless.